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Updated: September 13, 2018
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photo by Henk Seppen)

Belgium nips Spain in first exhibition game

ROTTERDAM (Neth.) - Belgium won only 2-1 against Spain on Thursday-evening (September 13) in the first of their two exhibition games in Rotterdam to prepare for the upcoming first edition of the Super 6 Baseball Softball. The two teams will meet again on Friday-evening, starting at 7:30 PM, also at the Neptunus Familiestadion in Rotterdam. The Super 6 opens next Tuesday, September 18 in Hoofddorp (Netherlands).

Two years ago, Spain lost against the Netherlands in the Final of the European Championship in Hoofddorp (Netherlands), while Belgium then finished in sixth place. On the ranking list of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), Spain is in 25th place, Belgium is listed 28th.

The Netherlands Team will play an exhibition game coming Sunday (September 16) against the Czech Republic at the Rob Hoffmann Vallei, the site of HCAW in Bussum.
A week ago, the roster of the Netherlands Team was announced.

Participating the Super 6 Baseball Softball are the six best European baseball- and softball-countries, based on the latest European Championships. For baseball, the one played in 2016, for softball, the one played last year.

In the baseball-tournament, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Spain will be joined by Germany and Italy.

Participating in the softball-tournament are the Netherlands, Italy, the Czech Republic, Great Britain, Greece and Russia. The Netherlands Team has no exhibition game scheduled. The team played an intersquad game on Wednesday-afternoon.

(September 13)

While this being 'only' an exhibition game, it must have been a frustrating evening for the Spanish squad. Spain outhit Belgium 7-3, but ended up empty-handed, as it left 13 runners behind, included the bases loaded twice. Two of the three Belgian hits were recorded by Dennis De Quint.

The first two innings of the game remained both scoreless and hitless. Belgium, which is nicknamed 'Red Hawks', then opened the score in the bottom of the third inning off of Javier Sánchez, who took over from starter Lowuin Sacramento. Sánchez hit lead-off hitter Lucas Rizzi with a pitch, then walked Jamie Verheyleweghen. Hereafter, an error on a sacrifice bunt by Benjamin Goffaux loaded the bases. Belgium then scored its first run on a sacrifice fly by Benjamin Dille and added another run on a 2-out single by Dennis De Quint.

Righthander Kenny Van Den Branden started for Belgium and played in a familiar stadium, as he pitched for Curaçao Neptunus in the past. In 2016, he was named Best Pitcher of the Dutch big league, then returned to Belgium thereafter.

...Kenny Van Den Branden was the winning pitcher...
...On the photo, he pitches for Neptunus in the...
...2015 European Champions Cup Final...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
With a 2-0 lead, Van Den Branden gave up a run in the top of the fourth inning. Spanish lead-off hitter Leo Rodríguez reached on an error. With one out, he advanced to third base on a single by Lesther Galván, who himself was eliminated trying to advance to second base on the throw to third. That was costly, as moments later, Rodríguez scored on a single by Roibert Decena, but Van Den Branden closed with a strikeout.

In both the fourth and fifth inning, the Spanish defense turned a double play that ended the Belgian at bats. Offensively, Spain stranded several runners in scoring position. In the first inning, it got its first two hitters on base, but they stranded. In the third at bat, two more runners were left behind.

Spain then got another scoring opportunity in the sixth inning when it got the bases loaded. Leo Rodríguez led off with a single off of Cedric Desmedt, who had relieved Van Den Branden in the previous inning. Desmedt followed with a strikeout, but then walked Lesther Galván and got the bases loaded with two outs when Daniel Sánchez singled. But the three runners were left behind when a grounder ended the at bat.

In the top of the ninth, Spain again got the bases loaded, this time off of Yannick Gontier, the fifth pitcher for Belgium in this game. He walked Daniel Sánchez, who moved on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Gontier got the bases loaded when he also walked Engel Beltré and hit Jesús Ustariz with a pitch. The inning and the game ended when Leo Rodríguez grounded out.

After scoring its two runs in the third inning, Belgium got into scoring position only two more times, both in the eighth. With one out in that at bat, Dennis De Quint walked and Steven De Lannoy reached on an error. The two moved on a sacrifice bunt, but stranded on second and third base when reliever Francisco González closed with a strikeout.

Belgium - Spain 2-1
pitchers Spaininn.SOBBHRER
Lowuin Sacramento231---

Javier Sánchez, L (0-1)212121

Fernando Báez2311--

Francisco González2121--

pitchers Belgiuminn.SOBBHRER
Kenny Van Den Branden, W (1-0)45231-

Cedric Desmedt, H (1)3413--

Artuur Diessens, H (1)1--1--

Yannick Gontier, SV (1)1-2---
HP-André Ficken, 1B-Edwin Louisa, 3B-Peter de Haan.
Scorer-Jan van der Sande (Neptunus).
Technical Commissioner-Henk van der Linde.
Public Address Announcer-Hélène van Eijk (Neptunus).
Scoreboard Operator-Lex Looijen (Neptunus).
Starting Time-7:34 PM.
Time Played-2:27 hrs.
Site-Neptunus Familiestadion, Sportpark Abraham van Stolkweg, Rotterdam (site Neptunus).

Game Notes:
First of two exhibition games to prepare for the Super 6 Baseball Softball.
Weather conditions at game time: Sunny, 15,2° C (59,4° F); wind direction north-northwest;
wind speed 8 kmh (4,9 mph); wind force 2 Bft; humidity 63%.

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